The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey is facing strong criticism after changing his mind to back assisted suicide.
At the weekend Lord Carey urged support for an assisted suicide Bill that is being debated in the House of Lords on Friday.
However, the current Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of his opposition – warning that elderly and disabled people would be “put under pressure to end their lives if assisted suicide were permitted by law”.
In his article Lord Carey spoke of the ‘deep’ impact Tony Nicklinson’s case had on him changing his mind.
Nicklinson had locked-in syndrome, which is a severe physical disability but is not a terminal illness.
Confusingly, Lord Carey also said it would be “outrageous” if assisted suicide were “extended beyond the terminally ill to an ever-widening group of people, including the disabled and the depressed”.
CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, Peter Saunders, and commentator Laura Perrins both pointed out that Nicklinson would not have been allowed an assisted suicide under Lord Falconer’s proposals.
“This only demonstrates”, Laura Perrins commented, “the inevitability of the extension of the law to people who are disabled, the very thing Lord Carey regards as ‘outrageous'”.
Writing on the same day as Lord Carey, Archbishop Justin Welby explained his strong opposition to changing the law.
He said: “It would be very naive to think that many of the elderly people who are abused and neglected each year, as well as many severely disabled individuals, would not be put under pressure to end their lives if assisted suicide were permitted by law.”
The Archbishop noted that his position “is not only my personal view; it is also the long-established view of the Church of England and almost all other churches and major faith traditions, as well as numerous groups representing the vulnerable”.
Former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali said that although he has huge respect for Lord Carey, he disagrees with him on assisted suicide.
Bishop Nazir-Ali commented that “nearly the whole of the medical profession, experts in palliative care and disability groups are united in their opposition to this Bill”.